Skip to content

What Chef Eats: Arief Rachman

What Chef Eats: Arief Rachman

Auli Cinantya
28 October 2023


TOMA Group's Executive Chef Arief Rachman shares his dining tales, cherished culinary memories, and an exciting upcoming project.


TOMA Group’s Executive Chef, Arief Rachman, is a seasoned professional with a remarkable 20-year journey in the F&B industry. During this time, he’s developed a deep affection for Asian flavors. His role involves shaping Toma Brasserie’s menu and leading an exciting new project, ‘East Quarter.’ 

Beyond the bustling kitchens, Chef Rachman finds pure delight in the art of creation. His culinary style emphasizes simplicity, highlighting the synergy of basic ingredients. However, his heart truly beats for the authenticity of home-cooked meals from any corner of the globe, as they carry the genuine essence of heartfelt cuisine. 

In his culinary journey, he has learned that a perfect meal isn’t just about exquisite dishes; it’s the joy of sharing it with friends, family, and loved ones. Chef Arief Rachman invites us into his world, sharing stories of recent dining adventures, treasured culinary memories, and an intriguing new project on the horizon.

Hi Chef! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your day-to-day activities?
Hi, FoodieS! I’m a chef with over 20 years of experience in the F&B industry. I’ve developed a strong passion for Asian flavors. I currently serve as the Executive Chef at Toma Group, overseeing the development of Toma Brasserie’s menu and an exciting new project called ‘East Quarter.’ Additionally, I share my culinary knowledge as a guest lecturer in various institutions.

What do you like the most about being a chef?
I truly relish the creative process and the opportunity to connect with people through my dishes, bringing happiness to their dining experience.

What usually attracts you to visit a place to eat?
The concept, ambience, and sense of community all play a significant role in drawing me to a dining establishment.

Do you have any memorable or the most unforgettable food memories?
There’s a memory that reminds me of the scene in ‘Ratatouille.’ My Chef de Cuisine once prepared a dish my late mom used to cook for me on special occasions. I initially underestimated it, thinking there’s no way he could recreate it perfectly. To my surprise, it tasted exactly like my mom’s dish, evoking strong nostalgia. I teared up and gave my chef a heartfelt hug. I blessed him for his culinary skills, and this memory remains treasured

What is your favorite type of food/cuisine? And what is the dish that you like the most?
It’s a tough question; I love food of any type or cuisine. But I always adore home cooking from wherever it is because it feels more sincere and from the heart. The dish that I like the most is ‘Ketupat Sayur Betawi Style’ (Homemade ketupat with Sayur Besan, Beef, and Jengkol Semur). That would be my last meal before I die.

Is there any food you can eat every day without getting bored? Do you have any place you frequently go to for it?
I can enjoy Ayam goreng bumbu kuning every day (my wife or my housemaid usually prepares it in the fridge, so it’s only needed to be fried when it’s needed). Other than my house, I frequently visit Ayam Goreng Berkah (Jakarta) and Ayam Goreng Pak Supar (Semarang).

What are your favorite local dishes, and where do you go to eat them?
Soto Betawi Bang Ujang, has always been a favorite due to its exceptional taste and nostalgic value, as my late dad used to take me there. Sate Ayam on Jalan Sungai Sambas, South of Jakarta, is an extraordinary dish with incredible flavors. Mie Kocok Bandung, found in front of RSUD, Cibinong, is another dish I love to savor.

Do you have any memorable food trips?
I embarked on a culinary adventure in New York for two weeks, exploring various bars and restaurants. Notable stops included Dante, Balthazar, Fette Sau, Angel’s Share, Nomad, Gramercy Tavern, Peter Luger, La Mercerie, and many others.

To you, a perfect meal wouldn’t be complete without?
A perfect meal, in my view, necessitates good cocktails and the warm company of friends, my wife, or kids.

What is your most recent dining destination that left a good impression?
My most recent dining destinations include August (Jakarta), Silk Bistro (Jakarta), Barbacoa (Bali), Skye (Jakarta), Sangsaka (Bali), Furusato (Jakarta), and Flor (Jakarta).

Do you have any go-to venues for hanging out with friends or maybe for special occasions with family?
I don’t have specific go-to places for hanging out with friends; it’s usually spontaneous. Sometimes: Toma, Furusato Izakaya, Burabura, Mr. Fox, Silk Bistro, Cocktail Club, Beer Hall. For family outings, it depends on my wife’s love for Asian food and my kids’ preference for European dishes. So, we choose places that cater to both needs, such as Acta Brasserie, Teratai Restaurant, Osteria Gia, Le Quartier, Jowa, Silk Bistro.

Where are your top three dining places that will always be on your favorite list? And what are your recommendations from each place?
My favorite dining places include August (Jakarta), with recommended dishes like ‘Foie PB&J’ and ‘Frozen Garut Coffee (Dessert).’ Riung Rasa (Bali) offers must-try items such as ‘Smoked Brisket,’ ‘Smoked Ox Tongue,’ and ‘Nasi Goreng Brisket.’ At Tabetomo (NYC), indulge in menu choices like ‘Tonkotsu Chashu Jiro Tsukemen,’ ‘Tonkotsu Chashu Jiro Ramen,’ and ‘Karaage Chicken.’

Are there any new restaurants that have piqued your interest lately?
Recent establishments that caught my attention include Glou, Lulu Bistrot, Su Ma, Bar Vera, and the upcoming project ‘Esa’ by Chef Aditya Muskita.

Did you develop new recipes or discover a new type of food you have enjoyed recently?
I’ve been engaged in a mix of developing new recipes and revisiting classic dishes, combining innovation with traditional flavors.

What are the most unique ingredients you have ever worked with?

Some of the most unique ingredients I’ve worked with include Nutritional Yeast, Celtuce, Duck Kidney, Monkfish Cheeks, and Banana Ketchup.

Is there any new plan or projects that we could look forward to?
Yes, we have an exciting new project set for December 2023, located at Grand Indonesia, titled “EAST QUARTER.” It will feature a Pan Asian concept and promise an extraordinary dining experience.

More From Drinks, Features, Food

Sign-up for our bi-weekly Eatspeditions newsletter.

Food news, restaurant offers and exciting food events straight to your inbox.